Guest blog by Jess Collins
A few years back me and some girlfriends were on a trip to The Netherlands. We had been staying in and around Amsterdam for a few days, but had quickly gotten fed up by the crowds and the tourists. After a particularly long and boring wait at the Anne Frank House we decided we would go on a road trip the next day.
We rented a car and asked the guy at the counter where we should go if we wanted to get away from the crowd. He gave us directions to a place called Utrecht that he thought would be a great day trip. Supposedly it would be a nice place to see and do some shopping.
Having no other destination we set out to Utrecht, thinking we’d be back later that afternoon. How wrong we were!
The trip to Utrecht was relatively smooth and after parking the car we started looking around. Utrecht is a beautiful city. Old European houses and cute canals. Within minutes after getting out of the car we found a lovely little park lined by old Victorian houses. One of the first things you note in the city is the HUGE church tower. It’s the largest church tower in The Netherlands and you can go up there.
After an hour in the car we were happy with the exercise, so we braved the 465 steps to the top and spend a few moments enjoying the wind in our hair and the incredible view.
After getting down, we walked along the canal for a while until we stopped to enjoy a cup of tea (and a glass of wine!). The weather was lovely so we spend some time watching the canal float by and looking at the shopping people walking along.
Shopping? Yes, Utrecht combines one of the most beautiful canals in the world with a great amount of shopping, both of which kept us occupied for a few hours.
After it started getting dark we headed out for food in a lovely cellar restaurant on the canal. The low ceiling gave the place a wonderful intimate mood and the smooth jazz band in the back kept us there for a long time after we finished our meal.
We were on our way back to the car when one of the more adventurous of us spotted a little orange light embedded in the pavement. It had the shape of an arrow and we could not convince her not to follow it.
We ended up following that trail of lights for a whole hour! Even though we knew we were going to be back really late we had a wonderful time. The mood of this classic old city after dark is really romantic and the trail takes you along some of the best hidden spots of Utrecht. We later learned that the trail is called Trajectum Lumen and has light art installations made by Dutch artists along it. I completely recommend it.
Unfortunately the route doesn’t end where it began, so by the end of it we we’re completely lost. We didn’t really feel like getting back into the car, so we checked into a lovely (but expensive!) bed and breakfast. Some of us went back into the city to go back to wine on the canal (which is lit up at night) while others went to bed early.
We took the car back to Amsterdam the next day. Although the trip had been a bit longer than it was supposed to be (and with the two day rental of the car a lot more expensive) I can totally recommend taking a road trip to Utrecht next time you are in Holland. Especially if you want to get away from the crowds in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.
Jess Collins is a writer, blogger and digital nomad who enjoys exploring the world and seeking out new stories. She writes articles and camping itineraries for Tourer Trader among other travel themed sites.